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Unbreakable
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My team'sReisinger quest this year fizzled out on the second day as we finished 15th.

MONACO posted another impressive victory. With all the fissures in the Italian bridge space, they are my pick for the best team in the world at the moment.

Take Peter Gill's seat atBoard A Match scoring, against Helgemo and Helness:

Gill
K5
AK
KQJ9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
?

Your choice ?

Gill
K5
AK
KQJ9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
?

Despite the high-card abundance of our hand, there is no certainty that we were making 3NT, let alone 4NT or 5 of a minor. Partner's inability to double is similarly a slow-down sign. Taking the money by doubling 4 would be the standard longterm effective action at teams scoring.

BAM, however, is all about taking the short-term winning action. It is a brutal form of matchpoint scoring. Actions that couldbe criticized as unilateral at IMPS often become mainstream at Board-a-match.

Peter appreciated that this was one such situation and chose 4NT.

What does 4NT mean?

High level competitive auctions pose difficult tests to even the very best partnerships and players.

Success requires a combination of good agreements, great judgement, and discipline. And perhaps even more importantly, the psychological toughness to accept the bad results that invariably accompany any approach.

What constitutes good agreements ?

In my opinion, any serious partnership needs to have thematic principles which can be extrapolated to at-the-table situations. Trying to document all situations is a practically impossible task. Falling back on solid, general philosophy for undiscussed scenarios is an important component of being effective.

One such agreement in our partnership is

If we have bid 3NT to play, then 4NT over their interference is to play.

Agree?

Hans
1074
J84
106542
Q9
Gill
K5
AK
KQJ9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

Agree or disagree, partner passes 4NT.

Helgemo leads 10and Helness discards a spade.

Declarer started ondiamonds, East won the third round asWest discards the 9 and7.

Hans
1074
J8
106
Q9
Gill
K5
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

Next comes theQ.

What's your plan?

Hans
1074
J8
106
Q9
Gill
K5
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

AQJ andA would give East a 1 opening and not a preempt. TheA rates to be offside. The heavy suit-preferential discards by West also fit with our picture.

Peter ducked and Helness continued a spade to the king and Ace.

Hans
10
J8
106
Q9
Gill
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

We have nine tricks in two hearts, four diamonds and three clubs. The defense have taken three winners.

As West plays a club, how do you rate our chances ?

Hans
10
J8
106
Q9
Gill
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

It appers clubs 3-3 or a squeeze are our chances for the tenth trick.

A more thorough analysis demonstrates that East is known to have six spades, no hearts and three diamonds. He must have exactly four clubs. The count has been rectified (Nine winners, three losers). On the run of diamonds, he will be squeezed between spades and clubs.

For all practical purposes, in a strong game, the hand is over.

Is there one last hurdle ?

Hans
10
J8
106
Q9
Gill
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

A triumphant rush often hits our brain after solving a complex problem. Many mistakes are made AFTER seeing the solution, as the brain switches from focused mode to auto-play.

The challenge here is to spot that we need to cash the heart winner before crossing to the dummy.

The precise order is :Q,A and only now....

Hans
10
J
106
9
Gill
9
AK75
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P

The last two diamonds finish East, who must keep all three of his clubs and the winning spade.

The full play of the hand can be seen here

Helgemo
A2
Q10976532
8
83
Hans
1074
J84
106542
Q9
Helness
QJ9863
A73
J1062
Gill
K5
AK
KQJ9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P
D
2
4NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
4
3
K
3
1
0
K
8
2
3
3
2
0
Q
9
4
7
3
3
0
J
7
5
A
2
3
1
Q
5
2
4
2
3
2
6
K
A
7
0
3
3
3
Q
2
4
1
4
3
8
8
A
2
3
5
3
9
3
10
9
1
6
3
6
10

What mistakes did the defense make ?

Helgemo
A2
Q10976532
8
83
Hans
1074
J84
106542
Q9
Helness
QJ9863
A73
J1062
Gill
K5
AK
KQJ9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P
D
2
4NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
4
3
K
3
1
0
K
8
2
3
3
2
0
Q
9
4
7
3
3
0
J
7
5
A
2
3
1
Q
5
2
4
2
3
2
6
K
A
7
0
3
3
3
Q
2
4
1
4
3
8
8
A
2
3
5
3
9
3
10
9
1
6
3
6
10

Helgemo could have led theA but it would be unfairto call it a mistake.

A beautiful technical play was overlooked by Helness (on play as West) here

Helgemo
A
Q6543
83
Hans
107
J8
106
Q9
Helness
J965
J1062
Gill
K
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P
D
4NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Can you spot it ?

Helgemo
A
Q6543
83
Hans
107
J8
106
Q9
Helness
J965
J1062
Gill
K
A
9
AK754
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P
D
4NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The best play is theJ, aiming to break up the squeeze.

Envision the layout where the7 and3 are swapped between South and West.

Now the logical progression of the play is per below

Helgemo
A2
Q10976532
8
87
Hans
1074
J84
106542
Q9
Helness
QJ9863
A73
J1062
Gill
K5
AK
KQJ9
AK543
W
N
E
S
3
3NT
4
P
P
4NT
P
P
P
D
2
4NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
4
3
K
3
1
0
K
8
2
3
3
2
0
Q
9
4
7
3
3
0
J
7
5
A
2
3
1
Q
5
2
4
2
3
2
J
3
7
Q
1
4
2
7
6
K
A
0
4
3
8
9
10
A
3
5
3
8

The defense manages to cut communications across the two hands and all of a sudden, there is no squeeze !

This play could cost if partner has theA and two low clubs. That hypothetical layout is inconsistent with the 4NT bid but it is a risk nonetheless. At the table, the second round of spades came so quick that I seriously doubt he analyzed the situation through.

Do you think we should forgive Helness ?

This is an easy one. Bridge is a game of mistakes. On the error scale, an oversight like this cannot get too harsh a mark.

And anyways, as we have previously seen, Peter Gill's squeezes are unbreakable!

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